Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Franz Schubert
LABELS: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Arias & Overtures from The Magic Harp, Claudine von Villa Bella, Die Freunde von Salamanka, Adrast, Lazarus, Alfonso und Estrella, Fierrabras, Das Zauberglökchen
PERFORMER: Daniel Behle (tenor); L’Orfeo Barockorchester / Michi Gaigg
CATALOGUE NO: 88985407212


Schubert’s operas – and there are plenty of them – enjoyed little success during his lifetime, many not even reaching the stage; and for that matter they haven’t received much attention since. The general complaint is that they lack drama – though this collection of overtures and tenor arias from eight works (some of them fragments) certainly testifies to their musical beauty.

The opening item, the overture to Die Zauberharfe, is at least well known since it was posthumously published as the overture to Rosamunde. Its performance instantly announces the superior period-instrument playing of L’Orfeo Barockorchester under Michi Gaigg, with characterful string tone and a wide range of dynamics and colour all finely captured in this recording; wind, brass and timpani, too, are interpretatively and sonically vivid.

Daniel Behle’s singing combines passion with control. In all he sings 12 items, including arias written for two different characters in both Die Freunde von Salamanka and Fierrabras – neither score performed in Schubert’s lifetime. Throughout the disc his vocalism is notable for its musicianship and expressivity, its vitality borne of a complete commitment to the text.

There are several highlights, including the powerful overture to the third act of Die Zauberharfe, the first of the arias from the fragment Adrast, the genuinely dramatic overture to Alfonso und Estrella, and an aria inserted into a Viennese performance of Ferdinand Hérold’s La Clochette. Only Schubert specialists are likely to know more than one piece on the disc, which turns out to be full of worthwhile discoveries, marvellously performed.

George Hall


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